Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 43, p. 131-142, (October 2014).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The goal of this study is to investigate how student teachers benefit from authentic researcher experiences as part of their pre-service education.
The participants were 287 student teachers from two Finnish Universities.
Data were collected by electronic questionnaires.
Teacher education programs guided student teachers to use and conduct research in the teaching profession.
Student teachers regard research studies as an important part of their education.
Research studies also affected students' ability to deal with learners' differences and collaborate with different partners in educational questions, and even helped them in their everyday classroom teaching.
The teacher's role as an evidence practitioner will be minimal if they do not have the ability to use tools, such as inquiry, questioning and critical thinking that are fundamental to research work.
Student teachers' authentic experiences of being a researcher strengthen their wide and comprehensive role as a teacher.
However, the authors can see that research studies must be integrated with other parts of teacher education.
Student teachers' comments show that becoming a teacher who creates knowledge to improve a school is a holistic process and requires support from competent supervisors as well as a teacher education curriculum design that connects and integrates different studies with each other.
Furthermore, active learning experiences in teacher education reinforce the research studies' positive effect on professional competences.
Student teachers' professional competences were much higher when both research studies and active learning experiences supported them.
The authors conclude that teachers should internalize the attitude of thinking like a researcher, constantly trying to find new solutions and seeking new evidence to improve their work as professional experts.
Working as research and evidence-based practitioners requires that they have a capacity to use research knowledge and tools to observe and produce evidence in their own work and know how to draw conclusions.
This demands understanding how knowledge is created in their own professional area, and they must also have a capacity for critical questioning and thinking.
Without these skills, it is difficult for teachers to teach 21st century skills.
Research studies are not the only component of teacher education, but they can serve as a pathway to deepen professional learning and 21st century skills.